Friday, January 8, 2021
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
This is the hardest article that I have ever written since I became a full-time Dodger write in 1993. I have written about many deaths during my career. Thursday, January 7, 2021, at 10:57 PM Tommy Lasorda died from heart failure. He was 93.
It is difficult for me to believe Tommy’s heart failed. I know he has had many heart problems since 1996 when he retired from managing his beloved Dodgers. Tommy remained with the Dodgers until his death.
Tommy was the heart and soul of the Dodger organization. He was with the Dodger organization for 71 years as a left-handed pitcher, who had not pitched much in the Major Leagues, a scout, a Minor League manager, third-base coach, Major-League manager for twenty years, a Vice President, GM, and a special advisor to the Chairman. He led the American baseball team to the 2000 Olympic gold medal.
His boundless enthusiasm and confidence in his ability made him lovable. Tommy once said, “I bleed Dodger blue.” No one ever doubted how much Tommy loved the Dodgers. Even after he
retired from the Dodgers, he had a regular presence at Dodger Stadium.
Tommy became Dodger manager on September 29, 1976, two days after my sixth birthday. It was the happiest day of his life. Tommy led the Dodgers to four National League Pennants and two world championships. He loved to manage young players had nine Rookies of the Year – Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Sax, Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo, and Todd Hollandsworth. During every spring training, Tommy was an icon when he talked to young players whatever level they were. In February, when the Dodgers meet at Camelback Ranch, it would be strange not seeing Tommy in his golf cart talking to the random player trying to instill confidence in them.
Although I never met Tommy in person, he had a profound effect on my life. I became a Dodger fan in 1977, Tommy’s first year of managing the Dodgers. Like Tommy, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I was told to learn to hide my emotions, which I could not. Watching Tommy’s antics helped me to accept myself. Moreover, I learned I needed a career that I loved because I could not go through the motions like my teachers.
In 1988, Tommy and the Dodgers made a profound effect on my life. I was a senior in high school and heard everywhere, “Sarah, you can’t do that,” since I was a non-verbal quadriplegic. In my heart, I knew the “experts” did not know me or what I could do, but it was hard for me not to listen to the “experts.” However, after all, I was taught to listen to authorities, so it was difficult for me to ignore the naysayers.
Watching the 1988 Dodgers taught me to the “experts” don’t always know what people can do when their hearts set to. In 1988, many baseball teams had much more talent than the Dodgers. However, those teams did not have a leader like Tommy who totally believed in his team’s ability. No matter how big the challenge was, the Dodgers met it and won. When I am depressed, I watch the video about the 1988 Dodgers. Thanks to the 1988 Dodgers, I understand I can evaluate what the “experts” tell me.
It is a sad day for the Dodger organization, the baseball world, and the City of Los Angeles. As I wrote this article, I was numb. Rest in peace Thomas Charles Lasorda. You will surely be missed.
Friday, January 8, 2021